Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle!

Cal Waste Recovery Systems and the California Department of Food and Agriculture

FARMS Leadership Program: San Joaquin: November 19, 2019

Location of Field Day: Galt, CA

Field Day Host(s) and Mentors:
Dave Vaccarezza – Owner of Cal Waste
MaryBeth Ospital – Community Outreach Coordinator at Cal Waste
Chris Vicense – Equipment Manager at Cal Waste
Dr. Kevin Williams – Senior Insect Biosystematist at the California Department of Food and Agriculture
Dr. Peter Kerr – Senior Insect Biosystematist at the California Department of Food and Agriculture

Theme: Environmental Science

Summary of the Day:

We began our field day with an introduction to Cal Waste from MaryBeth Ospital. She told the group about the history of the company. Cal Waste is a family owned business who just welcomed the 5th generation into the world a couple weeks ago. Cal Waste is also the largest, locally-owned waste collection and material recovery operation in the region, providing residential, commercial and industrial services to areas throughout Sacramento, Calaveras, Alpine and San Joaquin Counties.

We began our day in the Outreach and Education room at Cal Waste and on the far side of the room was a large window that over looked the MRF, which is the Materials Recovery Facility. This is where all of the recycling and garbage is brought in, processed, and sorted by material type. After our introduction we took a tour of the facilities. The San Joaquin FARMS Leadership students were able to get up close in personal with the trucks, the shop and even get a closer peak into the MRF which is currently be renovated and upgraded to a more technology based system. This new system will allow for the waste being processed to be more thoroughly sorted and cleaned of any contaminated materials.

After our tour we met back in the Outreach and Education room. The group was then met by Dr. Kevin Williams and Dr. Peter Kerr from the California Department of Food and Agriculture. Both Kevin and Peter work in the Plant Pest Diagnostic Center at the CDFA in Sacramento, CA. They presented on Plant Health and Pest Prevention. They also shared with the students some insect displays as well as some pest traps that they use for insect collections.

“They say a picture is like a thousand words. Well looking at a specimen is like looking at 1,000 pictures” – Dr. Kevin Williams, CDFA

After the conclusion of our CDFA presentation we took a lunch break before introducing our next guest speaker, Chris Vicense. Chris is the Equipment Manager at Cal Waste and started with the company when he was 16 years old. He has been with the company for over 25 years and was an inspiring testament to what it is like working or a family owned business. He also spoke to the students about the importance of trade schools and apprenticeships and the different opportunities in which they can get involved at Cal Waste.

Our final speaker for the day was Dave Vaccarezza the Owner of Cal Waste. He shared with the students more insight on the family history of the business and told the students how true the saying is “If you love what you do, you’ll never work a day in your life”. With the MRF currently down for 6 weeks while it is being upgraded, there are 54 employees who are out of jobs. Rather then letting them go and trying to refill positions in 6 weeks Dave found positions as well as made new positions for all of his employees! Thank you Cal Waste for the hospitality and hosting the San Joaquin FARMS Leadership Program for a field day!

What kind of belly is the best belly? – A Full Belly!

Full Belly Farm Field Day

FARMS Leadership Program: Sacramento Valley: November 14th, 2019

Location of Field Day: Guinda, CA

Field Day Host(s) and Mentors:

  • Haley Friel – Director of Outreach and Education at Full Belly Farm
  • Sierra Reading – Director of Outreach and Education at Full Belly Farm

Theme: Organic Farming Practices

Summary of the Day:

Today’s field day was at Fully Belly Farm’s in Guinda, CA. The Sacramento Valley FARMS Leadership Program was welcomed by Haley Friel and Sierra Reading, the directors of Outreach and Education at Fully Belly Farm. We took a tour of the 400-acre farm and learned about the different crops grown and the practices in which they use to keep the farm organic and sustainable. Full Belly Farm is planting, growing and harvesting over 80 crops year around keeping them very busy. Full Belly sells there produce to 4 main markets; wholesalers who buy pallets of produce at a time, to CSA (community Supported Ag) members, at local farmer’s markets, and to bay area restaurants. Full Belly Farm picks their produce to order so it is always fresh and they currently have 1,200 CSA members.

On our tour we were able to see their mobile chicken coops where the farm is raising organic chicken eggs that sell for $9.00 a dozen.  The students were also able to see the pigs, sheep and cattle raised at at Full Belly Farm and see where the produce is washed and prepped for sale. We also visited the flower shop where not only are fresh flower’s made into bouquets, but flowers are also dried and made into wreaths.

After lunch we went out into a field where peppers were currently being grown. We harvested and cleaned bouquets of peppers that will be dried and sold. The students also learned about soil and compost. At Full Belly Farm they us 10,000 pounds per acre of compost every year.

Chico State – “The Harvard of the West!”

FARMS Leadership Program: North State: November 5, 2019

Location of Field Day: Chico, CA


Field Day Host(s) and Mentors:
Sarah DeForest – Director of External Relations
Hayden Clement – CSU, Chico Meats Lab Manager
Gracie Pachie – CSU, Chico Tour Coordinator and Guide

Theme: College Exploration and Career Opportunities

Summary of the Day:

We began our visit to Chico State with an introduction to the campus, student housing, different courses available at Chico State, as well as studying abroad.  After we concluded our presentation Gracie Pachie, the Tours Coordinator and Guide showed us around campus. We toured the campus and saw classrooms, visited the Bell Union Memorial (BMU) saw student housing and the dining halls and concluded our tour at the campus gym which just celebrated its 10th year. Once our tour ended we headed in to the BMU dining hall where the students all got to enjoy a college style dining experience. We also checked out the campus store and students and their teachers were able to buy some shirts, hats and other cool Chico State gear.

Following lunch, we all went back to our vehicles and drove out to the University Farm. We were greeted by Sarah DeForest, who took us on a tour of the farm and told us about it’s history and how it got to where it is today. We visited the beef unit, dairy facility, swine unit, sheep unit, and meats lab. We were also able to check out the orchards where they grow pecans, almonds, walnuts and peaches. As well as 400 acres of row crops that the student employees are able to work in as well. The CSU, Chico Farm employees 45 students in part time positions as well as numerous interns each semester. The FARMS Leadership students all had different interests so they were all able to explore the different units. After our farm tour we headed into the meats lab where Hayden Clement, the Manager, gave us a tour.  The meats lab processes cattle, hogs, and sheep from the farm as well as animals from local fairs and ranches. It is a USDA inspected facility and sells meat to customers Thursdays and Fridays every week.

A Little Dirt Never Hurt!

Boggs Tract Community FARM

FARMS Leadership Program: San Joaquin: October 29, 2019

Location of Field Day: Stockton, CA


Field Day Host(s) and Mentors:
Kenda Templeton – Puentes Executive Director
Clifton Maxwell – Puentes Farm Manager and Nursery Specialist
Jessica Bryant – Puentes Urban Forestry Coordinator, Owner and Farmer of Corn Poppy Produce

Theme: Urban Agriculture


Summary of the Day:

For our first field day of the 2019-2020 school year, the San Joaquin FARMS Leadership Program visited Boggs Tract Community Farm in Stockton, CA. Boggs Tract Community Farm is managed by the Puentes organization and their goal at Boggs Tract is to connect the community with the land and help provide them with a space to grow farm fresh produce. We began our day with a tour of the farm by Clifton Maxwell, the Farm Manager. Clifton showed the students the different garden plots that can be rented by the community, the outdoor education area, the chicken coop, compost site, bee hives, and tree nursery. Following our tour Clifton lead the students in different farming activities where the students were able to get their hands dirty and plant seeds, spread mulch and create a new garden bed. The students worked for about an hour and then we took a break for lunch.


Following lunch, the students were introduced to Jessica Bryant. Jessica not only works at Boggs Tract but is also an incubator farmer and leases the land across the street which is where she has her farm Corn Poppy Produce. Jessica provides farm fresh produce to the Stockton community and sells at farmer’s markets, her farm stand, and has also done work with the local culinary program. The FARMS Leadership students helped weed her garden beds, prep beds for new crops, and plant winter crop seeds. This is where we concluded our day in Stockton learning about urban agriculture and getting a lot of hands on experience at Boggs Tract Community Farm.

Kick off to the 2019-2020 Sacramento Valley FARMS Leadership Program!

Sierra Orchards and Mariani Nut Company

FARMS Leadership Program: Sacramento Valley: October 24th, 2019

Location of Field Day: Winters, CA

Field Day Host(s) and Mentors:
Craig McNamara – Owner and Manager, Sierra Orchards
Gus Mariani – Operations Manager, Mariani Nut Company Max Mariani – Production Manager, Mariani Nut Company

Theme: Walnut Production and Sustainability

Summary of the Day:

The Sacramento Valley FARMS Leadership Program kicked off the 2019-2020 program year at Sierra Orchards in Winters, CA. Sierra Orchards is home to Craig McNamara who founded the FARMS Leadership Program in 1993. The field day began with an introduction to the Program and the Farm followed by activities to introduce the students from different schools to one another. The Sacramento Valley FARMS Leadership Program is made up of students from 5 high schools in the Sacramento and Yolo counties; Luther Burbank, Grant Union, Sacramento, River City, and Esparto High Schools.

After the activities concluded the group headed on down the road to Mariani Nut Company. We were greeted by Gus and his nephew Max Mariani who work at and manage the facility. They gave us an overview of the family owned company and then took us on a tour. We were able to see the different stages of production from when the walnuts were dropped off in shell to how they are sorted and processed. They sell walnuts and almonds all over the world in different forms including in shell, sliced, whole, flavored, etc. You name it and they probably have a market for it. The students were then able to work on the factory line and help the quality control team sort walnuts.

Following our tour of Mariani Nut Company we headed back over to Sierra Orchards where we were met by Craig McNamara. Craig gave an overview of Sierra Orchards and then took the Sac Valley FARMS group on a tractor ride tour of the property. We went out into the orchard and were able to see the crew harvesting as well as visit the huller and see walnut shipments come in and be sorted and dried.

There’s a Fungus Among Us!

Premier Mushrooms and Colusa Industrial Properties
FARMS Leadership | North State | October 22, 2019

Location of Field Day:
Premier Mushrooms and Colusa Industrial Properties
Colusa, CA

Field Day Host(s) and Mentors:
John Ashbaugh – Premier Mushrooms, CEO
Misty Castellanos – Premier Mushrooms, Growing Analyst
Ed Hulbert – Colusa Industrial Properties, CEO

Theme: Sustainability

Summary of the Day:
We kicked off the 2019-2020 North State FARMS Leadership Program with a field day at Premier Mushrooms in Colusa, CA. Premier Mushrooms employees the largest number of people within Colusa Industrial Properties (CIP) at around 230 employees. They are also operating 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

To start off the day the the students did ice breaker activities to get to know the different students from the schools participating this year. The North State FARMS Leadership Program is made up of 6 different high schools including Marysville, Maxwell, Yuba City, River Valley, Core Charter, and Pierce.  At the end of our final ice breaker we headed over to the property where Premier Mushrooms has their growing operations.

John Ashbaugh the CEO of Premier Mushrooms gave us an introduction to the company. He then introduced us to our tour guide for the day, Misty Castellanos. During our tour Misty took us into the grow houses where we were able to see mushrooms at all different stages of production. Since mushrooms are a fungus Premier Mushrooms plants millet seed inoculated with the mushroom strain to grow their mushroom varieties. It takes approximately 50 days from planting the seeds until the mushrooms are ready to harvest. Harvest of the mushrooms last 3 to 5 days and each room will grow 2 or 3 crops that can be harvested before they have to clean the room and prep it for another cycle.

After our tour we headed over to Colusa industrial Properties where they hosted us for lunch. We wrapped up our field day learning about the property and the many different businesses that it houses. Thank you Colusa Industrial Properties and Premier Mushrooms for a great start to the year!

Seeds by Design at Emerald Farms

FARMS Leadership Program: North State: May 1, 2019

Location of Field Day: Maxwell, CA

Field Day Host(s) and Mentors:
Leon Etchepare
Patty Buskirk
Andrew Pentecost

Theme: Seed Production

Summary of the Day:

For our final field day of the 2018-2019 school year the North State FARMS Leadership Program visited Emerald Farms. We began our day with an introduction from Leon, Andrew and Patty. They also served the students some breakfast snacks, which included a sampling of one of their new products, Maple Walnut Butter. One of the new entities of Emerald Farms is their walnut butter production line named Wellnut Farms.

After our introductions we headed down the road to the first set of crops we visited for the day. Patty took over and explained her duties as a plant breeder and the science used behind the decisions she makes to produce the best seeds for her clients and customers. The first crop we looked at was a crop of Purple carrots. Unlike many farms, Patty’s goal with her crops is to market the produce but instead to create the best seeds. This enterprise much like Wellnut Farms is also a part of Emerald Farms but is named Seeds by Design. Next we toured a variety of different crops and then Patty, Leon, and Andrew passed around jars of seeds for each of the crops we looked at so the students could see all stages of the crops and the differences between them.

Next we toured Emerald Farms Almond and Walnut Orchards. The students learn some of the different practices used within the production each of the orchards. We then were given a tour of the processing facilities. We walked through the huller and dryer and then headed to the warehouse where the new Wellnut Farms walnut butter line is being constructed. We then concluded our tour at the seed mill. We were able to see a variety of different seeds being cleaned, packaged, sorted and stored. Thank you to all of the staff at Emerald Farms for a great final field day of the program year.

Cleaning Up The Trash At Cal Waste!

FARMS Leadership Program: San Joaquin: April 11, 2019

Location of Field Day: Galt, CA

Field Day Host(s) and Mentors: Mary Beth Ospital – Cal Waste Community Outreach Coordinator

Theme: Sustainable Management Practices

Summary of the Day:

Our final field day of the 2018-2019 program year with the SJ FARMS Leadership Program was a little different this year. We visited and toured Cal Waste and Galt, CA. The FARMS students learned about sustainable management practices and how to be more effective and efficient in their recycling habits.

We began our day in the Outreach and Education room at Cal Waste. We were welcomed by Mary Beth who gave us an introduction to the company and an overview about what Cal Waste is all about. Cal waste is a family owned business and is the largest, locally-owned waste collection and material recovery operation in the region, providing residential, commercial and industrial services to areas throughout Sacramento, Calaveras, Alpine and San Joaquin Counties. On the far side of the room was a large window that over looked the MRF, which is a materials recovery facility. This is where all of the recycling and garbage is brought in, processed, and sorted by material type.

Mary Beth then took us on a tour of the facilities. We were able to check out the different types of vehicles up close. We also toured the mechanic shop where the trucks are worked on and maintained. Then we checked out the MRF from the ground floor. After we finished our toured we headed back to the Outreach and Education room. Cal Waste hosted us for lunch and the students presented their Community Action Projects. These are the projects the students worked on within their school groups to better their community and teach others about what they have been learning about this year in FARMS. After the students were done with lunch and their presentations we played Cal Waste’s versions of jeopardy and bingo to conclude our day!

Student Quotes:

“Today I learned the 3 R’s; reuse, reduce, and recycle!” – Melina, from Health Careers Academy

“I learned that you can’t recycle pizza boxes and other products contaminated with food waste.” – Oduwa, from Langston Hughes Academy

“I learned that when we recycle products that are not recyclable it becomes someone else’s job to sort the garbage out.” – Leslie, from Health Careers Academy


“Do You Pronounce it “Am” mond or “All” mond?”

Chamisal Creek Field Day

FARMS Leadership Program: North State: April 9, 2019

Location of Field Day: Arbuckle, CA

Field Day Host(s) and Mentors:

Mike and Amy Doherty – Owner’s and Operator’s of Chamisal Creek

Theme: Sustainable Management Practices

Summary of the Day:

We began our field day at Chamisal Creek with an introduction by Mike Doherty, the owner of the farm. We then walked out into a newly planted almond orchard to learn about their production practices and the industry needs from almond farmers. This led to a discussion about water usage and needs and Mike shared his philosophy on ground water recharge and what Chamisal Creek is doing to preserve and lessen their water usage. We then traveled across the road to see where the man made water reservoir that Mike built was located and the run off from his orchard is collected. We then finished up this portion of the day looking at their mature almond orchard. We discussed the different variations in which orchards can be planted and the different practices used for orchard irrigation. At Chamisal Creek they use a drip system.

We then did a quick driving tour of part of their property and made our next stop at the Chamisal Creek vineyards. Here we learned a little about viticulture and how Chamisal Creek emerged into the viticulture and wine industry. Next we headed down to Mike’s shop where the student’s were able to learn about and get hands on with some of the equipment used at the ranch. We also walked around their solar panels and learned about the solar operations as well.

After visiting the shop and checking out the different types of equipment we took a break for lunch. Amy Doherty, Mike’s wife prepared a buffet style lunch while grilling burgers for all the students as well as some of their employees who joined us as well. Once we finished lunch we discussed a little bit about rangeland management as we headed to our last stop of the day. They students planted acorns into pots to be transplanted next year. After that we headed up to the top of the property where students planted oak saplings along the edge of the road.

Field Day at CSU Chico


FARMS Leadership Program: North State: March 7, 2019

Location of Field Day: Chico, CA

Field Day Host(s) and Mentors:

Sarah Deforest – Director of External Relations

Ashley Person – Student Success Outreach, and Retention Coordinator

Sydney Nguyen – Chico State Special Tours Coordinator and Guide

Theme: College Exploration and Career Opportunities

Summary of the Day:

We began our visit to Chico State with a presentation from the Admissions Counselors who told the FARMS students about campus life and how to successfully apply. The presentation lasted about 30 minutes and discussed the campus, housing, different courses available at Chico State, as well as studying abroad.  After we concluded our presentation Sydney Nguyen, the Tours Coordinator and Guide showed us around campus. We were able to see the campus, the remodeled gym, classrooms, and lastly one of the dining halls where our tour concluded. Once our tour ended we headed in to the Bell Memorial Union dining hall where the students all got to enjoy a college style dining experience.

At the conclusion of lunch, we all went back to our vehicles and drove out to the University Farm. We were greeted by Sarah Deforest, who took us on a tour of the farm and told us about it’s history and how it got to where it is today. We visited the beef unit, dairy facility, swine unit, sheep unit, and meats lab. We were also able to check out the orchards as well as the crops that the student employees are able to work in as well. The students all had different interests so they were all able to explore the different areas. One major hit was getting to pet and play with all the calves at the dairy. A few students also picked up some hats and shirts at the farm gift shop as well. We lucked out with great weather and had a wonderful time exploring the Chico State Campus and University Farm.